12 January 2009

Black bean chili with butternut squash and swiss chard

Looking for a hearty, healthy, tasty vegetarian meal? This is it. I served this chili at a dinner party and it was a hit. Easy to make, too. I topped off the bowls with a dollop of plain yogurt, diced red onion, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges for squeezing.

Black bean chili with butternut squash and swiss chard

(adapted from Bon Appétit, 2006)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 2 1/2 (or more) cups vegetable broth
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 3 cups (packed) coarsely chopped Swiss chard leaves (from 1 small bunch) - I chopped up the stems and added those to the chili, too

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; sauté until tender and golden, about 9 minutes. Add squash; stir 2 minutes. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Stir in beans, broth, and tomatoes with juices; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes*. Stir in chard; simmer until chard is tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*You can do these steps ahead of time or the day before. When ready to serve, bring the chili back up to a simmer and add the swiss chard.

09 January 2009

Have lots of pulled pork? Make burritos!

I described the pulled pork I made in my previous post, however, I didn't tell you that I made a lot. A LOT. After we enjoyed our pulled pork sandwiches, I froze half of the meat and was still overwhelmed with the leftovers. The next 2 nights I enjoyed these burritos, which were exceptionally good. The meat was even more flavorful on the second day, so I piled it into to a tortilla with rice, black beans, homemade salsa, chunks of avocado, and some plain yogurt (in place of sour cream). The burritos were super fast, super easy, and delicious! Lesson learned: a 9-pound pork shoulder is way too much meat for two people.

08 January 2009

Pulled pork, cole slaw, and a household chore

I secretly look forward to household chores that take all the day; they provide an opportunity to make slow-cooked meals I think about often. Braised meats, sauce and meatballs, soup, stock, etc... all tasty and easy, but who has time to stay home all day to mind the stove? Not me, usually. That's why all-day-household-chores are such a treat. This past Saturday the plan was to make pulled pork and clean the basement. Exciting, I know.

I woke up early to prep the pork. I cut off excess fat from the meat, and covered it in a rub (recipe below). I wrapped it up tight in aluminum foil, and stuck it in the oven at 250 degrees*. That's it. The day was off to a great start.

I went to the basement, and there the day took a turn for the worse. I discovered that much of our stuff covered in mold. MOLD! So gross. The majority of the day was spent picking through moldy items, tossing stuff, and washing the rest. Hours later, and after a trip to Home Depot for shelves and plastic tubs to ward off any future mold, the basement was neat and organized. But I didn't feel the sense of satisfaction normally associated with finishing a chore like that. Instead, I felt sad and sick. Sore throat, cough, sneezing; the mold got me. To make matters worse, the hot water heater needed to be repaired, so I had to wait for the repairman to return before I could take a shower.

Defeated, I went upstairs, washed the mold off my face and hands, and took a peek at the pork. It looked (and smelled) fabulous! Slow cooking all day, it was ready to be shred into tasty goodness. Bf kindly offered to chop the veggies for the slaw. The repairman showed up just as I was shredding the meat and adding some barbecue sauce. It smelled so good, he must have been jealous. Thirty minutes later, the hot water heater was fixed, and we sat down to some sandwiches and slaw. Just the kind of meal you need after a day of fighting mold.

*Special thanks to my friend Chris who shared his pulled pork technique with me.

Pork rub:
4 tbsp. paprika
2 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. cumin
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper

Mix together & rub all over pork.

Cole slaw:
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
1/4 large yellow onion, minced
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 mayonnaise
1 tbsp. sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Chop vegetables and place in a large bowl. Mix together vinegar, mayonnaise, and sugar, then add to slaw. Toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

06 January 2009

A happy holiday

I had a very nice holiday season. I enjoyed almost 2 weeks off from work during which I made the rounds visiting family, friends, babies and pets. I saw almost all of them. And I enjoyed some fantastic tasty business along the way. I made some of it, but for the most part, I was able to just enjoy. Can't beat that! Here's a glimpse of what I've been up to:

Lots of snow made for a white Christmas (sort of)
Before the holiday began, we took a short trip to Vermont

The cabin we stayed in had this stove. I LOVED it. Bf and I made some tasty breakfast for the whole group. I only wish I could have brought it home (the stove, not the breakfast).

Final wrapping of the tasty treats I gave out as gifts

Christmas Eve dinner was delicious. I made these roasted Brussels sprouts with shallots and cranberries to go with the ham. I also made this butternut squash.

While the rest of my family had cheesecake for dessert, I enjoyed this tart I made with some cinnamon whipped cream.
This little guy loved his first Christmas morning.

I forgot to bring my camera to Christmas dinner. This extremely unfortunate as Christmas dinner is my favorite meal of the year. I can't even begin to describe the tastiness - antipasto, lasagna, salads, roast beef, vegetables, cookies, cookies, cookies, desserts, homemade drinks, wine, torrone, etc.... So yummy, I can't wait for next year's meal.

After Christmas, I went to NJ and NY to spend time with some very fabulous friends. We celebrated birthdays, babies, kids, and engagements.

We went to this very colorful and very tasty little Mexican restaurant in NJ.

Fresh guacamole made at our table.

And, of course, then we found these

Finally, I spent New Year's eve in CT listening to these guys

Now I'm back in MA, back to work, and back to making tasty business!